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Full text of "My country and my people"

THE    CHINESE    GHARAGTER               Jl
armed camps of Communism and reaction. There is a deep chasm separating the younger generation from the older generation, which is an extremely regrettable state of affairs. While the thinking younger generation are decidedly for a cataclysmic upheaval of the whole ideological and political system, a movement of conservative reaction has set in among the ruling authorities. The conservative reaction is unfortunately unconvincing, owing to the fact that its champions are mostly war-lords and politicians whose personal lives are far from being models of Confucian conduct. Actually, such conservatism is only a cloak of hypocrisy and a sadistic reprisal giving outlet to their hatred of the young. For Confucianism teaches respect for old age and authority. The shining political light who utters large inouthfuls of Confucianism happens also to initiate Thibetan-lama-Buddhist prayers for divine succour against Japanese aggression. The jumble of Confucian platitudes mixed with Sanscrit om mani padme hum and Thibetan prayer-wheels creates an extremely weird effect unlikely to arouse the interest of the young Chinese.
This is the surface struggle between conservatism and radicalism in China. Its outcome will depend largely upon Japanese and European politics, for no mere argument will settle the question. China may yet be driven to Communism, if the champions of conservatism cannot prove themselves worthy to find a way out for China. As regards the true temperament of the Chinese race and the large mass of people who either read Chinese only or read nothing at all, conservatism will always remain.
Most important, however, is the fact that Chinese do not want to change. Behind all the outward changes of custom and women's dress and habits of locomotion, the Chinese retains a sneering smile for the hot-headed young man who wears a foreign coat or who speaks English too well. That young man always looks immature and is often shamed out of his progressiveness. The strange thing is that the man who no longer looks immature veers towards conservatism in China. The returned student arrives at maturity by putting on a Chinese gown and accepting the Chinese way of life. He loves its mellowness, its leisure, its comforts, and its commonplace